The beginning of another year is upon us. And what a year we have left behind, at least as unsettling as the year before, which was one of the most divisive and frightening in my life so far. 2022- war, geopolitics on a scale unknown in many years, threats of nuclear confrontation, recession, and pandemic. What has become of mankind? A question I will not answer; instead on to some news.

The latest reports from Russia, digging into them at least, reveal some dissent. Growing dissent? Perhaps. There were Putin Christmas ornaments to hang on your tree, using the noose around his neck. People in Russia- not just in Ukraine, when asked what they want for Putin for the new year- answering “death.” More fires, more firebombs, more people speaking out, leaving the country.  Maybe. We only have access to so much information. A note to any young Russian males: according to Ukrainian reports, you only have about a week left to escape after which time borders will be closed and you will be sent to the war, very likely to die. Here is my favorite part of that article:

As Reznikov (the Ukrainian Defense Minister) pointed out, the only reason Russians will be sent to fight this war is “so that you protect criminals, their palaces, their bank accounts, and become criminals yourselves.”

Regarding Russian troops, various reports state the conscripts being sent to Ukraine are responsible for their own body armor, their own uniforms, aid kits, and field equipment. This is a good sign for Ukraine, very bad for Russia and its expendable citizens being sent into the meat grinder. Ukrainian Telegram channels often highlight the “equipment” the Russians soldiers have when captured or killed: helmets marked “child’s toy- does not provide any protection.” Aid kits from World War II! Tourniquets that are nothing more than old belts and rubber straps. Field gear… from a sporting goods store.  And finally body armor that would not stop anything above a small caliber round.

In Ukraine, morale is as high as ever. But that is nothing new. They have much to look forward to, with new weapons systems coming their way, including Patriot missiles, new round for existing missile systems, and more training and field equipment pouring in. They are fighting for their existence.

Here is the latest update on the war from the ISW- RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JANUARY 5, 2023.

Finally, as always, Russian combat losses and deaths as of today, with daily numbers growing due to the effectiveness, fortitude, and intelligence of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Russian combat losses as of 05 January, 2023

Russian combat losses as of 05 January, 2023

How much attention do we need to pay to the “news” to know what is really going on?  I’m asking rhetorically, of course. Being opinionated as I am, I say either you are aware, or you are not. What is happening in the news really doesn’t matter. I have stopped paying attention for the most part, and find that whenever I return to the “news of the day”, the latest “breaking story”, or have a look at the state of the world as reported by just about any outlet, nothing has changed… except maybe the phraseology.

Ben Zimmer, a columnist I can honestly say that I follow, writes in the Wall Street Journal about the origins of the words “crazy” and “crazytown”. His catalyst is a comment published in Bob Woodword’s latest book, “Fear”. Of course the comment refers to our government, to its leaders, to the Big D himself. And while crazytown is a fine reference and takes us right to the point, I think we can take a step closer to the present day with a more contemporary phrase: cloud cuckoo land.

Now for some background: while I avoid not only “news” but as much media as possible- especially television, video, and most anything digital, there are some things I just cannot hide from. One of those is Lego. And of course the Lego Movie. I really am a fan of Unikitty, and think often of bubblegum and butterflies and cotton candy. But sometimes it is just not enough, those days when the line between smiles and frowns blurs, and I realise that cloud cuckoo land and hell might be the same place, with the Big D at the helm, and the whole of civilisation sitting in the boat.

Bubblegum!  Butterflies!  Cotton candy!

I was thinking this morning about politics, the upcoming election, promises. I was thinking about how we try to regain what was, perhaps voting for someone because they claim they will return us to a better time, to “the way it used to be.” The fact is, it never was the way it used to be.